In response to the escalating cases of Brucella canis in the UK, leading veterinary organisations have jointly issued a comprehensive policy position.

The organisations include including the British Veterinary Association (BVA), British Small Animal Veterinary Association (BSAVA), Society for Practicing Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS), and British Veterinary Nursing Association (BVNA). This initiative aims to guide veterinary teams on testing and managing Brucella canis cases, emphasizing the importance of considering clinical signs, epidemiological links, and diagnostics in decision-making.

Strategic Guidance for Vet Teams

The guidance from the veterinary organizations outlines 13 recommendations, urging veterinary teams to exercise clinical judgment and undertake a contextualized risk assessment when deciding on B. canis testing, treatment, or euthanasia options. Notably, the recommendations advocate for transparent communication with pet owners, making them aware of associated costs and potential outcomes before conducting tests.

The policy position advises the use of B. canis SAT and iELISA serological tests in most cases, supplemented by a holistic evaluation, including clinical signs, movement history, and exposure likelihood. Emphasizing individual risk assessment, the guidance underscores that the well-being of the infected dog, other dogs, and people should take precedence over longevity when deciding on suitable treatment or euthanasia options.

Rising Cases and Urgency for Government Action

In the last four years, the UK has witnessed a surge in identified B. canis cases, with numbers escalating from three cases before 2020 to 240 in the last three years. The government’s data reveals that most affected dogs were either imported, had returned from overseas holidays, or were bred with an imported dog. Recognizing the need for immediate action, the veterinary organizations call on the government to tighten pet import rules and implement mandatory pre-import testing.

The launch of the joint policy position follows the UK Health Security Agency’s HAIRS report last September, which classified the risk to the general public as very low. However, concerns persist, particularly for veterinary teams and owners of infected dogs, due to the increased number of cases and the potential for dog-to-human transmission.

Call for Government Action

The veterinary organizations collectively called on the government to establish more robust import rules, including mandatory pre-import testing, to mitigate the risk of serious exotic diseases like B. canis entering the UK. This aligns with their commitment to minimizing the spread of the disease and safeguarding public and animal health.

The collaborative effort from these organizations reflects a commitment to navigating the challenges posed by rising Brucella canis cases and underscores the critical role of veterinary teams in preserving public health and ensuring the well-being of animals.